Valyruh’s #CBR5 Review #58: Silken Prey by John Sandford

If you like action and political thrillers, this is the book for you. Political corruption, power lust and sociopaths are the lead characters in Silken Prey , and we the readers get to shiver in anticipation as the plot unfolds  and we watch Sandford’s favorite cop Lucas Davenport struggle to find the bad guys when we know who they are from the get-go.

Sandford starts this latest novel of his with the brutal murder of a political fixer, and escalates from there to a political conspiracy that has the potential to reach the White House some day if not stopped in its tracks. Sandford cleverly chooses as his super-villain a smart, gorgeous and supremely wealthy young woman who is Democratic candidate for the Senate, and happens to have lots of political savvy, a narcissistic personality, and not a shred of a conscience when it comes to getting her way. The person she is trying to defeat is Porter Smalls, a personable good-ole-boy Republican right-winger who likes women a little too much and too obviously. The governor of Minnesota, a Dem, is nonetheless friends with Smalls and brings Davenport in when Smalls’ office computer is discovered to have nasty child-porn on it just days before the election. The dirty tricks escalate rapidly to murder, as Davenport races to expose the conspiracy before the election.

Sandford’s writing, as always, is smooth, clever, and fast-moving, and the plot of Silken Prey is an intricate one, full of political and social cross currents that beg comparison to the politics of today on both a small and large scale.  I especially liked the fact that Sandford left the ending deliberately unsatisfying as a way of reminding his readers that there are no easy solutions to the problem of political corruption, and that we cannot ever let down our guard when it comes to choosing who to hand the reins of power to.  I found hero Davenport to be somewhat less interesting than in Sandford’s earlier novels where we were still learning about this complex character. In Silken Prey, he is but a means to an end and not a very vivid one, which is somewhat disappointing. Nonetheless, it took courage for Sandford to delve into the sordid life behind the scenes of much of today’s politicking, and he made it sufficiently believable and sufficiently compelling to keep me along for the ride.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #6 – Mad River by John Sandford

I’ve done a ton of driving this week: Tampa to Miami and back again (in one day), out to Ocala, and various other shorter trips. Hours and hours and hours of driving. Did y’all know that the Cracker Barrel (that’s a “restaurant,” for those of you who live places they ain’t) has a book-on-CD rental deal? You can go to the CB, grab a book, and go. Well, after they charge you what it would cost to buy the book-on-CD. Then you do your travelling, and return the CDs to any other Cracker Barrel anywhere. Then they figure out the rental fee, and you get the rest back. Costs a little more than the library, but (given funding) with better hours. Oh, and it’s a fairly red-state operation, so a lot of the books available are Glenn Beckish and John Grishamy, so often one is stuck with picking the best of a bad lot.

I kind of felt that way about this book – looked like pulp fiction, but at least no one was trying to convert me to anything. I had heard of Sandford and his Prey/Lucas Davenport novels. Not sure if I’ve read any, but I was at least familiar with the name. The jacket copy was pretty standard, murder, mayhem, clever dicks (that’s short for detective, potty mind), stuff like that. In this one, some young Minnesotans go on a killing spree. There are no spoilers here, the book opens with the three killers committing their first two murders. They want to think they’re Bonnie & Clyde (and that other guy), but Bonnie & Clyde had two brain cells to rub together. These kids don’t, for sure. There are some complications behind one of the murders, and the whys and wherefores.

This book features Virgil Flowers, as kind of a spin-off of the Davenport stories (and, if you look at all of those books, it’s a wonder there’s anyone left alive there). I had no idea who the guy is, and this book is not the first in the series, but it was easy enough to follow. It was interesting, and repeatedly noted by the characters, that the cops knew who did it, but couldn’t find them, so the killings kept happening.

The story was more Starkweather/Fugate than Bonnie/Clyde, but with a couple of twists. It was a fine listen (can’t call it a read), and definitely kept me interested whilst driving all over the damn state. I may check out a few others, but I may stick to the “on CD” option.